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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

One Small Step

To all my loyal readers: I apologize because I never do this, but today I am going to post about something that is "in preservation news." Some of you might enjoy it because you are a secret preservationist, and others might enjoy it because you are New Yorkers, and even more of you might enjoy it because you grew up in Long Island or you frequently take Amtrak to NYC. The big news is that the Federal government just put $83 million worth of stimulus money to implement phase 1 of the Moynihan Station Plan! 

For those of you who have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about, Moynihan Station is the long discussed solution to the always depressing scenario that is NYC's Penn Station. The plan for Moynihan Station entails the purchase and adaptive re-use of the Farley Post Office (pictured above), which is located across the street from the present-day Madison Square Garden, for a new Pennsylvania Station. As the station through which Amtrak enters the city of New York, the present day Penn Station is completely inadequate. It operates at 100% over capacity, and is the most mixed up underground warren of rooms ever conceived. 

If I seem a tad overzealous about this topic, it is only because the loss of the original Penn Station was so great. Built in 1910 by the venerable architects McKim, Mead, and White, Pennsylvania Station was designed to be the gateway to the greatest city in the world, and a temple to transportation. 

The waiting room, Pennsylvania Station. Can you imagine waiting for a train in this room? No wonder train travel was so chic. Within the station there were waiting areas for men and for ladies, as well as private clubs, restaurants, and bars.  

This temple to transportation recalls the Baths of Caracalla in Rome, intended by the architects, with its high, barrel-vaulted, coffered ceiling. Aahh all the endless possibilities in train travel--all the places one could see and go--before the airplane. 

Can you imagine getting off the train in your small town, and getting off the train here? It would only confirm that this was the place dreams were made of. 

And again ... 

Need a taxi? 

Somehow even the art nouveau Greyhound bus terminal, against the backdrop of the venerable station, looks distinguished. 

By the 1960s, train travel and the immense station had become outmoded. The space was not being used to its full capability, and the city began plans to tear down the station. Cries of outrage came from all over the city. Pictured here is Jane Jacobs, the famous preservation advocate (second from left), and Phillip Johnson, the famed modernist architect (far right), protesting the demise of the forgotten landmark.

Regardless of the outcry, on October 28th 1963, the unthinkable happened--they began to take the impressive structure down piece by piece. All the pink granite and travertine, sculpture and gilding, were relegated to the swamps of the meadowlands. They didn't even have the decency to dispose of it in a gracious way. 

Penn Station is arguably one of the biggest losses that the preservation world has ever incurred. However, the loss of this magnificent landmark was the catalyst that began the preservation movement in New York, including the establishment of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. This first step towards Moynihan Station may be too little too late, but we also owe it to all those people who will be arriving in NYC for the first time, we have to remind them that they have come to the greatest city in the world. 
"Until the first blow fell no one was convinced that Penn Station really would be demolished, or that New York would permit this monumental act of vandalism against one of the largest and finest landmarks of its age of Roman elegance . . . Any city gets what it admires, will pay for, and ultimately, deserves. Even when we had Penn Station, we couldn't afford to keep it clean. We want and deserve tin-can architecture in a tin-horn culture. And we will probably be judged not by the monuments we build but by those we have destroyed." NYTimes

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hit the Lights

So I have been thinking on the subject of light a lot lately. I had some people over for dinner this weekend, and one of them was very complimentary of how my apartment looked, and I am convinced it is all owed to this little device above--the dimmer. They couldn't be easier to install, and yet in my opinion they can change the tone of the room more than a change in paint color or new fabric ever will. 

Most of us lacquered lifers are renters, and as renters there are many aspects of our homes or apartments that we are not in control of. Lighting does not have to be one of them. One of the first things I did when I moved into my apartment in Philadelphia was replace all the overhead lighting cheap, stylish fixtures from Ikea. 

So first and foremost, ditch these. Secondly, make sure you install dimmers on all the light switches in your apartment. Typically I prefer to use lamplight, which feels warmer--but since most of us are stuck with overhead lighting, go to the hardware store and get some dimmers. No one looks good under the strong glare of an overhead light, unless you dim it within an inch of its life. It is also important to note that you should never use lightbulbs that are above 60 watts, and I often put 40 watt bulbs in the lamps in my apartment if they don't have a dimming function built in.

Here is my kitchen--the fixture before and after. These miniature DIY projects are really easy to do, and you should not be afraid of unscrewing a fixture and seeing what your wiring looks like. Please, please make sure that you go to the breaker box first so that you don't get a shock! 

House Beautiful

House Beautiful
In both of these Albert Hadley designed rooms, he uses lamps as his primary source of light. I would highly recommend this as a first course of action, with low wattage bulbs of course. However, if you need to use your overhead lights, for everyone's sake, get a dimmer switch.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Real McCoy

... Is it an earthquake, or simply a shock? Is it the good turtle soup, or is it merely the mock? Is it a cocktail, this feeling of joy? Or is what I feel, the real mccoy? ...
Checking out Lonny Magazine's February issue, I am completely smitten with Kelly Wearstler's design for the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills. As I have said before, I am typically not her biggest fan, but the design for this hotel is absolutely fantastic. Looking at the photos, you are convinced that if you were sitting there drinking something chic, like a vodka gimlet, Frank Sinatra and the rest of the rat pack might end up at the table next to you. It is mid-century hollywood glam at its absolute best. (Oh and did I mention that much of the design is blue?)

Again, reminding all of you out there that historic preservation is not about little old ladies and historic house museums, this hotel was a complete restoration. Discovered and developed by Wearstler's husband, Wearstler originally did the decorating 10 years ago when the hotel first opened. And now, as an anniversary-style event, she is revamping it. The turquoise terrazzo floor is original to the hotel, and was lovingly restored--Kelly took her blue decorating scheme cues from this floor. 

Why have I become so obsessed with mid-century lately? For so long these uber chic buildings were so under appreciated, constantly being torn down, and now people are finally realizing how completely original so many of the buildings were--and that they are worth protecting and restoring. Look at these chairs!-the cage-like seating is the perfect gilt asset to this room's clean lines. 

Lovely to meet you, Mr. Sinatra, Mr. Martin, yes of course you may buy me a drink. This bar requires that one wear an amazing outfit, don't you think? Look at that marble! I love the bar stools, very Kelly and very haute. 

How about a poolside dinner or cocktail? Look at these cabanas! Again, the terrazzo floor repeats out doors, complemented further by the graphic tile walls in the cabanas. Since there are so many patterns and colors in the tile, Wearstler has kept the decorating scheme very simple, and let the architecture speak for itself. 

The silver standing lamp is amazing. The tile on the walls has almost a David Hicks-esque quality to it that I just love. Keeping the rest of the cabana decor minimalist is perfect for showing off the tiles, however Wearstler uses furniture with very interesting lines, managing to be extremely creative while using all white! 

This fab scene of the dining room opening to the pool and cabanas almost begs the question, what are you wearing? I love the hourglass shape of the pool--there are so many wonderful curves and rounded edges in both the architecture and Wearstler's decorating. 

The rooms don't open until this summer, but I am sure that they will have no problem attracting visitors. Now I just have to find the money to get to LA, put on a hollywood glam outfit accessorized with alot of gold jewelry, and go to the Avalon for a cocktail--even if I will be sleeping on my cousins couch for the weekend. 

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Is there a Foo Doctor in the House?

One of the members of my household took a spill, and I am absolutely devastated! I have collected all of his pieces, and I am in the process of trying to put humpty dumpty back together again, but its not easy. Why couldn't he have lost a leg? Or his tail? Of course its his face, and its in a million pieces. My poor little foo. Sorry for the short post, but I need to deal with this situation! Anyone have any suggestions? 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cheap and Chic of the Week: Danish Delights

I have fallen in love ... with a small leather goods company. Baekgaard has been around for fifty years, but their accessories and colors are so chic and fresh. After the company's founder passed away, the company is being run by his wife, Barbara Bradley (of Vera Bradley fame), and the designs are too fab. Most importantly my lacquered lifers, is the price point of the goods. This chic chic chic address book, which comes in a variety of luscious colors, costs $28! 

Who doesn't need a fab cover for their lip gloss?  This "Gloss & Toss" costs $17, and again the color options are really wonderful. 

Going on a vacation to somewhere exotic? Take this high gloss passport holder for $21. 

And while you're at it, for all your jewels to travel safely, their jewelry roll is only $42. 

Going on that all-important interview for that "to die for" job. Take this portfolio with you and they are sure to be impressed! $46.50.

After you get the job, this card case would be great to stash all your sexy new business cards!--I just ordered one for myself in this fab kelly green, only $10.50! And this green was on sale for $7.88! 

For those tears in the hem of your chic cuffed pants at the office, this sewing kit has it all! $12!

For the picture of you and your man on your desk at the office!--this is $22.50. They also have a 4x6 version which is cheaper!
And finally, for us Lacquered Lifers who are constantly scoping out furniture in stores or steals by the side of the road, a chic tape measure! $12! The site is also great for gifts, and they also carry the Vera Bradley men collection, which has really cute pocket squares, cufflinks, and ties! Be sure to check out and have a happy Wednesday! 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Wallpapered Life

I think that I have mentioned before that I have a friend who has wallpaper in her apartment, and I am always telling her that she is a "real person" because of that wallpaper. Something about wallpaper is so permanent, and almost immediately indicates ownership. The first thing I'm going to do when I buy my first place is put up some wallpaper!--and I think I have found the paper that I want to install. Vivienne Westwood has recently come out with a line of wallpaper for British wallpaper scions Cole & Son, and her "squiggle" print has me sooo excited! 

Obviously, you know me, I LOVE the blue. I think these papers would look so nice in a powder room or entry hall. Needless to say, I have neither of these things in my life right now, but might as well take note of them for later! She also has a print called Vivienne's Lace, of which I like the red and blue ... 

All of these wallpapers are available through Cole & Son. I can't say that they are really priced for a lacquered lifestyle, but a girl can dream!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hail to the Chiefs

In honor of Presidents' day, I wanted to do a post about Presidents' homes. Other than their most important home, the White House, each President has had a home of their own, which they returned to after their presidency, or which they visited for vacation. Other than the homes that we are familiar with, there are a few which are the homes of lesser known presidents and are equally beautiful. 

In the interest of chronology, let's start with the first. Mount Vernon, home of George Washington, our first president. Mount Vernon is located in Virginia. 

Peacefield, Massachusetts. Home of John Adams and John Quincy Adams, our 2nd and 6th presidents.

Monticello, Virginia. Home of Thomas Jefferson, our 3rd president.

Montpelier, Virginia. Home of James Madison, our 4th president.

The Hermitage, Tennessee. Home of Andrew Jackson, our 7th president. 

Lindenwald, New York. Home of Martin Van Buren, our 8th president.

Grouseland, Indiana. Home of William Henry Harrison, our 9th president. 

Abraham Lincoln Home, Illinois. Home of our 16th president.

Lawnfield, Ohio. Home of James Garfield, our 20th president.

Sagamore Hill, Long Island. Home of our 26th president, Teddy Roosevelt.

Hyde Park, New York. Home of our 32nd president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Harry S. Truman Home, Missouri. Home of our 33rd president.

Kennedy Compound, Massachusetts. Home of our 35th president.

I love the variety of sizes and styles in the presidents' homes. Harry Truman lived in an historic house!-man after my own heart.  I would encourage you all to go to the website of the National Parks Service,, and check out the websites of these houses, because most of them are house museums and are open to the public (except for the Kennedy Compound). There is no better way of celebrating our presidents and our nation's history than through the architecture that they inhabited throughout the years. Happy Presidents' Day! 
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